The Astrology of the Obama Oath Controversy: The True Inauguration Chart
The now famous Mercury retrograde stumble over the inaugural oath forced Barack Obama to silence any constitutional criticisms by retaking the oath a second time. This has thrown the astrological community into a bit of a tizzy about which chart signifies the actual beginning of Obama’s presidency, since astrologers will base many predictions about the future of his presidency on astrological alignments at the moment that he took office.
It seems possible that this will be one astrological debate that could conceivably continue for quite some time to come, and in light of that we will present some of the most common arguments in favor of considering the second oath chart as the beginning of his presidency, as well as the counterarguments in favor of using the original time and date of the inauguration as the true chart for the Obama presidency.
The hope is that this will settle any lingering doubts over the matter, and help to establish a community standard for the chart, both in our work here on the Political Astrology Blog, and in the work of others.
Common Argument In Favor of the Second Oath Chart # 1:
The first most common argument that seems to be made in favor of using the second oath chart is that Obama is not President until he swears the Oath with the exact words. Therefore the correct chart for the beginning of his Presidency is when he swears the exact wording of the Oath.
On the one hand, it is true that the Constitution says that the President cannot “enter on the execution of his office” without saying the oath”
Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation:–“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
– Article II, Section I of the US Constitution
However, the 20th Amendment to the Constitution somewhat overrides the oath as the beginning of the presidency:
The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3rd day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
– Amendment XX, Section 1 of the US Constitution
This means that Obama could have been back in Hawaii watching a football game at noon on January 20th and his term would still begin at that exact time. This effectively means that the swearing of the oath does not signify the beginning of his term, even if it is legally required for him to say it.
Technically this could be interpreted to mean that Obama cannot “execute” the office of the Presidency until he has said the oath, as the Constitution requires, however he had in fact acted as the President and signed a number of executive orders into effect for a full day before he took the oath a second time. Does this mean that any actions Obama made before the do-over were unconstitutional? This does not seem to be the case, and so far no one seems too concerned with that, because he wasn’t forced to re-do any official presidential business after swearing the oath again.
So then, does the time of the do-over bear any astrological importance?
Yes, it does. But only as a chart of a do-over. In the chart for the second oath of office Virgo is rising and Mercury retrograde is ruling the ascendant, with Saturn in the 1st house. Mercury retrograde periods are widely known by astrologers as times for miscommunication, stirring up controversy, legal matters, and especially do-overs. Saturn is the planet which signifies doubt, caution, and fear.
After the flubbed oath at the Inauguration, some constitutional experts, including Obama, were concerned that without having said the exact words many would believe he wasn’t really sworn in as the President, and so out of “an abundance of caution”, Obama took the precaution of re-swearing the Oath. As a result, this chart merely reflects Obama re-doing the Oath, and the concern about having to re-do the Oath in general. However, his term had already begun, regardless of the oath.
Whether it was to the letter of the law or not, the ceremony held on January 20th around noon was the moment that Obama assumed presidential responsibilities, the beginning of his presidential term, not at the re-do.
Common Argument In Favor of the Second Oath Chart # 2:
The second most common argument in favor of using the second oath chart is that the Void of Course Moon at the initial swearing in did exactly what it was supposed to do, insomuch as nothing came of the first oath, so he had to do it again.
The Void of Course Moon has many different definitions aside from the modern one, and for many traditional astrologers the Moon was not technically Void of Course at the Inauguration because it was closely applying to Mercury, the Sun and Jupiter.
It is also worth pointing out that even according to the modern definition, the Moon was “Void of Course” at the moment of Obama’s announcement of his presidential candidacy, yet something certainly came of that matter. He became the President!
Of course, this is conveniently ignored by those who attribute the “void of course” Moon to Obama having to re-swear the oath. It is also hard to ignore the parallelism of the Moon being in late Scorpio around his Midheaven at both the time he first announced his candidacy to be President, and the time he was sworn in as President. Biden took his oath with the exact words in the exact same timeframe, yet he, the purported master of verbal gaffes, did not have to reswear his oath. The fact that Mercury was retrogade, a mere hour after the Mercury inferior conjunction with the Sun, is sufficient enough of an explanation for why there had to be a re-do.
Common Argument In Favor of the Second Oath Chart # 3:
The third most common argument in favor of using the chart for the second oath is simply based on the opinion that the chart of the second swearing in is better than the first. This argument is mainly based on the notion that the condition of the Moon is somewhat improved in the second chart, simply because it is no longer “void of course” and in Scorpio.
The problem with this argument is that much of what made the original inauguration time so remarkable in the first place is completely lost in the second chart for the re-swearing of the oath, and in fact the second chart seems to be much more inauspicious than the first when using some of the common rules of electional astrology.
At noon on January 20th, the Sun, Mercury, Jupiter and Neptune were all in Aquarius in the 10th house, the highest point in the sky, reflective of governments, authority and leadership. A heavy 10th house emphasis is something you might expect to see in the inception chart of a presidency, and many of these planets were closely conjunct Obama’s own natal Aquarius placements. Additionally, both the Sun and the Moon are angular, in the 10th and 7th respectively, and the ruler of the ascendant is an exalted Venus in Pisces in the 11th (as it has been for several other presidencies).
However, at 7:35 pm on January 21st, there is nothing in the 10th house. The emphasis of Aquarius has been moved to the anemic 6th house, the place of illness. The ruler of the 1st and 10th is Mercury retrograde in Capricorn, backing up into a conjunction with Mars. The Sun and Moon are cadent and angular, in the 6th and 4th respectively.
Even the much touted Moon in mid-Sagittarius, which is no longer void of course in the chart, is closely applying to form a T-square with the difficult Venus-Uranus-Saturn opposition, which arguably leaves the Moon no better off than it was when it was void in Scorpio.
There is nothing particularly striking or positive about this chart, except the fact that the Virgo/Mercury retrograde emphasis reflects the overly cautious or even nitpicky need to re-do the oath. Clearly the former chart is more reflective of the beginning of a new presidential administration, while the latter is not.
The January 20, 2009 Noon Chart is the True Chart for the Obama Presidency
With all of the pro and con arguments laid out in this way, the answer to the question surrounding the controversy about the correct presidential chart for the Obama administration becomes quite clear. The noon chart for Janauary 20th was not only the most significant chart from a legal perspective, but also from a symbolic perspective. It clearly reflects the historical importance of what took place that day, as well as some of the major challenges that Obama and his administration will face. Ultimately only time will tell which chart responds best to transits, progressions and other timing techniques during the course of his presidency, although it already seems abundantly clear which chart that will be.